By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — The goal light flashed, the horn moaned, the “Ole” song played and the fans sang and danced in the stands.But the referee didn’t call Minnesota State’s late go-ahead goal good on the ice, and, after checking the video replay, couldn’t find evidence to overturn that decision.
Instead, Wisconsin scored the game-winner, beating the 11th-ranked Mavericks 2-1, before a crowd of 3,826 at the Verizon Wireless Center. For the second game in a row, it came in overtime, and for the second game in a row, it came from senior defenseman John Ramage.
Ramage scored with just 6.2 seconds left on the clock, giving Wisconsin its first-ever sweep in Mankato and extending his team’s unbeaten streak to 10 games.
But with 2:47 remaining in regulation, the Mavericks appeared to take a 2-1 lead on a power-play chance by Jean-Paul LaFonatine.
“I saw a replay, and it was in,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “I don’t know how, but for some reason (the officials) didn’t get the opportunity to see that.”
The Mavericks weren’t without their chances after that, as they had three shots on goal in the overtime, including a Johnny McInnis blast that grazed the shoulder of outstanding goaltender Joel Rumpel (35 saves) early on. Minnesota State was also 0 for 9 on the power play.
After struggling with the Badgers’ stifling defensive style for two periods, Minnesota State opened things up and put 16 shots on goal in the third period. They scored just one goal, Matt Leitner’s deflection of an Evan Mosey shot from the point that tied the game with 7:33 remaining.
The Badgers led 1-0 on Jefferson Dahl’s goal with 3:05 remaining in the second period. It was the only puck to get past rookie Stephon Williams (24 saves) until the game-winner.
The sweep was the first time Minnesota State dropped back-to-back games since Denver swept in Mankato on Nov. 9-10.
“If we want to get home ice and get a top six finish in the WCHA, these are the games we have to learn how to win,” Hastings said. “It’s understanding that there’s a real fine line between winning and losing hockey games. And the fine line was a matter of 40-some seconds this weekend.”
In the tight conference race, the loss plummeted MSU to eighth place in the league standings, one point behind Wisconsin. However, just four points separate them from first place.
Meanwhile, the Badgers gave their coach, Mike Eaves, the team’s hard-hat award in honor of Wisconsin’s first sweep at The Cell.
The Mavericks (14-8-2, 8-8-0 in WCHA) will go on the road and play at Alaska Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.
“We need to keep our heads up,” MSU senior captain Eriah Hayes said. “We can’t give a goal in the last minute of a game both nights. It was almost the same play. The only thing we can do is stay positive and be ready to go to work Monday.”
Minnesota State 0-0-1-0—1
Penalties: Margonari, MSU (boarding) 2:58; Simonelli, UW (tripping) 9:01; Faust, UW (hooking) 13:43; Ramage, UW (interference) 14:42; Lehrke, MSU (hooking) 14:46; Grant, MSU (contact with the goalie) 18:07; Lee, UW (tripping) 19:26.
Scoring: 1. UW-Dahl 3 (S. Little 3, Ramage 2) 16:55
Penalties: Woods, UW (charging) 5:00; Kerdiles, UW (slashing) 9:18; Elbrecht, MSU (roughing) 9:18; Lee, UW (roughing) 10:55; Mosey, MSU (roughing) 10:55.
Scoring: 2. MSU-Leitner 9 (Mosey 2) 12:27
Penalties: McCabe, UW (roughing) :13; Grant, MSU (roughing) :13; Ramage, UW (tripping) 1:15; Ramage, UW (tripping) 5:11; Lehrke, MSU (charging) 13:08; R. Little, UW (interference) 17:07
Scoring: 3. UW-Ramage 4 (R. Little 4, McCabe 8) 4:53
Shots on goal: UW 7-15-3-1—26. MSU 4-13-16-3—36. Penalties: UW 11 for 22 minutes; MSU 7 for 14 minutes. Power-play opportunities. UW 0 for 3; MSU 0 for 9. Goalie saves: UW Peterson 4-13-15-3—35 (1 GA); MSU Williams 7-14-3-0—24 (2 GA)
MSU called its timeout at 2:54 of the second period. UW called its timeout at 18:58 of the third period.
Referees: Derek Shepherd, Marco Hunt. Linesemen: Matt Tyree, Tony Czech.